Weather Forecast


County to create new social services post

WORTHINGTON -- Increasing caseloads are proving too much for the staff at Nobles County Community Services (NCCS), which led commissioners on Tuesday to approve a request for a new position within the department.

NCCS director Nicole Names presented a request for a children's services social worker, specifically to work in the area of child mental health. She said the position was needed to help bring caseload numbers down to a more manageable level for department staff.

Names researched the potential to contract with the Southwest Mental Health Center and also figured the costs and revenues associated with the county hiring a case worker.

"Hiring the position internally would be best," Names said. "If the position was contracted, we would lose the stability and opportunity to cross-train in other areas."

Total salary and benefits for the position would be approximately $55,950. Offsetting the position with revenue and additional federal funds, she said the cost to the county would be closer to $30,000 per year.

Commissioner Diane Thier said the number of caseloads has been discussed "for a long time."

"As much as we don't want to hire new people, I think we need to," she added.

In other action, the board:

* Approved the sale of $1,595,000 in general obligation water revenue crossover refunding bonds at an interest rate of 1.689 percent. The bond purchaser is BOSC Inc., Menomonee Falls, Wis. The bonds are a refund in advance of the Jan. 1, 2013, call date on $2,625,000 general obligation water system refunding bonds used for the Lincoln-Pipestone Rural Water System.

* Authorized a contract with Vetter Johnson for services to prepare bids and specs for the first phase of the energy assessment. This authorization confirms the county will pay the firm 13 percent of the estimated project costs as its fee for services rendered. The energy assessment, as presented in November 2011, would cost an estimated $2.5 million if all of the projects identified were completed.

* Approved a request from Nobles County Attorney Kathleen Kusz to advertise for an assistant county attorney. The position will bring the attorney's office to a four-person staff.

* Discussed renewal of a lease agreement with the Workforce Center for space on the second floor of the Nobles County Government Center. The Workforce Center had presented information on the rental costs for space in other counties, and Nobles County came out at the highest rate. Commissioners decided to present the Workforce Center an offer of $13 per square foot -- a decrease of more than $5 per square foot -- for a five-year lease of the office space.

* Adopted a resolution for participation in the Southern Prairie Health Purchasing Alliance and agreed to pay an initial $5,000 investment into the alliance, with an additional $5,000 investment to be made when the joint powers agreement is signed between the participating counties. The alliance is hoped to give county health agencies better purchasing power by working together.

* Approved an increase in the maximum amount of money NCCS will provide for a county burial. The prices had not been updated for at least seven years. The new maximums include up to $3,200 for a traditional burial and from $2,300 to $2,750 for cremation services. An adjustment is built in for 2013, raising the coverage cost for a traditional burial to $3,500.

* Authorized an agreement for advancement and repayment of a $500,000 loan, set at 1 percent interest, for the Southwest Mental Health Center building project.

* Approved a request for Jeff Markus to construct an additional driveway to his property along Nobles County 53, located in Section 33 of Indian Lake Township.

* Approved a contract renewal with SWMHC for intensive family based services with no rate change.

* Approved five interpreter contracts, including three Spanish speaking, one Karen/Burmese speaking and one Anyuak speaking, for the NCCS office at a rate of $20 per hour.

* Approved a home care services contract renewal with Sanford Worthington Medical Center.

* Authorized the issuance and awarded the sale of G.O. Water Revenue crossover refunding bonds at an interest rate of 1.689 percent

* Appointed Brian Frodermann, of Heron Lake, and Victoria Blanchette, of Worthington, to the Health and Human Services Advisory Committee. The newly formed committee will meet for the first time on Thursday

* Authorized a contract with Bruce Kness to represent parents in Child in Need of Protective Services (CHIPS) cases, as well as Permanency and Termination of Parental Rights (TPR) cases in Nobles County.

Julie Buntjer

Julie Buntjer joined the Globe newsroom in December 2003, after working more than nine years for weekly newspapers. A native of Worthington, she has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism. Find more of her stories of farm life, family and various other tidbits at

(507) 376-7330